The first UK baby created with DNA from three people has been born through the use of a pioneering IVF procedure, reports say.
The child developed through a process known as mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT) which involves taking the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs – containing her DNA – and implanting it into a donor egg that had its nucleus removed but retained the donor’s healthy mitochondrial DNA.
It is a means of creating IVF embryos that are free from harmful mutations their mothers carry and are likely to pass on to their children.
Unlike ordinary DNA, which has the genetic information that helps make us who we are, mitochondrial DNA provides power for the cell and has been compared to a battery.
Many scientists in the field insist the term “three-parent baby” is inaccurate for this reason as more than 98.8 percent of the DNA is still from two people.
The UK parliament gave a green light to the procedure in 2015 and a regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), considers requests for its use.
The first British “three-parent child” was discovered through a Freedom of Information request to the HFEA. The clinic reportedly said a small number of babies have now been born in the UK after MDT.
Doctors at the clinic do not release details of births from its MDT program, amid concerns that specific information could compromise patient confidentiality.
Britain is not the first country to see children born through MDT. In 2016, a child was born in Mexico through the procedure.
The child’s mother had Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder that affects the developing nervous system and would have been passed on in her mitochondrial DNA.
Professor Alison Murdoch, head of the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, Newcastle University, who has been at the forefront of research in this area in the UK, said at the time the birth was “great news”.